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  • 15 Medical and Mental Health
  • Complaints processes against medical service providers
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Handbook

Complaints processes against medical service providers

The first step: the treating agency

A consumer’s first point of contact in attempting to resolve a complaint should always be with the authority which provides the service concerned. This applies to both public and private health care providers.

In public hospitals, complaints are handled by the hospital administrators, for example, the Chief Executive Officer, the Medical Superintendent (where applicable) and the Director of Nursing. These officers may also receive assistance from committees of the relevant hospital board (for example, the ‘Patient Care Review Committee’). However, committees do not, as a rule, investigate individual complaints, especially where the complaint involves a matter of professional judgment or the treatment of individual patients by individual clinicians. Committees are usually more concerned with coordinating general policies regarding the quality of hospital services and so on.

In Community Health Centres the mechanisms for handling patient complaints are not as well developed. In some instances, the Coordinator of the Centre may be able to resolve the matter. In other instances the Department of Health and Human Services will become involved in resolving the complaint.

Complaints against aged care providers

Aged care, like most health care, falls into the two categories of private and public practice. Complaints about aged care should first be directed to the service provider, and failing resolution by this means, complaints about public health aged care can be directed to the relevant public department. At the moment, this is the federal Department of Health. Under the new Liberal government, responsibility for Ageing is moving to the new Department of Social Services.

The current Aged Care Complaints Scheme has a hotline: 1800 550 552, contactable between the hours of 8:30am and 5:00pm weekdays and 10:00am and 5:00pm weekends and public holidays. The Aged Care Complaints website also provides helpful information.

Complaints about private providers of aged care services can be directed to the Office of the Health Complaints Commissioner (OHCC) if the complaint concerns a Tasmania-located provider. For information on the complaints procedure through the OHCC, see below.

Complaints against government services

Department of Health & Human Services

If initial contact with the public health service has left a consumer with an unresolved complaint, the complaint may be referred to the Department of Health and Human Services for investigation. It should be directed to the attention of the Director General of Health Services. Such a complaint may lead to the involvement of the Medical Council of Tasmania, which governs the conduct of registered medical practitioners within Tasmania.

Alternatively, a complainant can take court action but should seek legal advice and guidance.

Medicare Complaints

Medicare is administered by the Commonwealth government under the Health Insurances Act. Complaints against Medicare and related matters, including medical services refunds, should be directed to Medicare.

Non-medical cosmetic procedures

Cosmetic procedures, such as laser surgery and beautician work can be referred to the Office of the Health Complaints Commissioner (OHCC) or to the Department of Health (DHHS). Laser surgery falls under the authority of the Board of Medical Radiation Practitioners, and can be referred to both the OHCC and AHPRA, depending on the nature of the complaint (see below). Issues with the provision of waxing treatment or similar treatments can be referred to your local Council. Waxing and similar treatments are licensed with the local Council.

Page last updated 12/09/2019

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